Technique Tuesday–Basic Color Theory

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |

Today I want to delve a little into color theory and why it’s important to know.  And if this subject seems a little boring and dry, hopefully you’ll quickly see how this applies in most kind of artwork.

{If you still need convincing, and haven’t seen it yet, check out my time-lapse video on YouTube where I created this color wheel using just three primary colored pencils, red, yellow and blue. That’s excitement, right there, folks.}

I had no idea this was such a controversial topic.  I once had a science teacher argue with me, saying that primary colors consisted of red, yellow and green. I soon realized that we were talking about two very different things, he about science and biology, and I about the nature of pigment.  Besides, any school kid can tell you that blue+yellow=green, meaning green is a secondary color, not primary, so art>science.

Take THAT Science.  😉

So, why is this important to know when you’re using colored pencils?  If you think about the colors are next to each other on the color wheel, called analogous colors, you’ll know which colors blend the nicest, like the orange and magenta in the word “TECHNIQUE:”


Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |

Analogous colors

Also, if you watch the Instagram video again, you can see that I used the primary colors to darken the secondary colors.  So, for example, when you’re adding shading to purple, instead of layering more of the same color, try using blue to create a richer shade of purple.  Or adding a soft layer of red to add shading to orange.

Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called complimentary colors.  They usually don’t work well blended together, but create beautiful contrast in color schemes.

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |

Complimentary colors

Sports teams will often use complimentary colors in their uniforms to show strength and power, although some teams do use analogous colors in theirs for a much different effect (Go Seahawks!).


You can also create color schemes using two to three colors in a triad:

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |

Most people don’t actual think about color theory when they’re using it, they just know it feels right.  Do you think about the colors you’re using before you put them on paper?  How do you use colors in your bullet journal?

Next week, I’ll go through a design from start to finish, showing a few of the techniques I’ve already mentioned.  🙂

Here’s a link to the Instagram video in case you missed it above.

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory |





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